Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14 - We Are The Mighty
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Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

We had to do a double take, and yes it’s real! A CV-22 Osprey performs a routine formation flight while en route to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 9, 2017. The 1st Special Operations Wing conducted a flyover for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game featuring the Clemson Tigers versus Alabama Crimson Tide.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Air Force photo

Master Sgt. Michael Meyer checks on the tires of a C-130H Hercules at the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio, during routine morning maintenance Dec. 28, 2016. The Ohio Air National Guard unit has a 40-year history of flying airlift missions since it received the first C-130B model in the winter of 1976.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood

Soldiers from Multinational Battle Group-East brave the cold to participate in a sledding competition on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Jan. 8. Each sled was an example of high-tech Army engineering, carefully constructed for speed, style and comfort.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Army photos by Spc. Adeline Witherspoon, 20th Public Affairs Detachment

ARMY:

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Army photo by Capt. William Carraway

Talk about a ‘boom with a view! Soldiers in a M1A2 Abrams tank, assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fire at targets at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Dec. 8, 2016.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Erick Ritterby

NAVY:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan 11, 2017) The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) conducts a live-fire exercise with the ship’s RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missile weapon system. Bataan is underway conducting composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Petty Officer Nicholas Frank Cottone

ARABIAN SEA (Jan 9, 2017) After being sprayed with Oleoresin Capsaicin Fire Controlman 2nd Class Tauren Terry demonstrates a takedown on Cryptologic Technician Maintenance 2nd Class David McDowell as Master at Arms 1st Class Cecily Schutt evaluates Sailors’ performance during security reaction force basic training on the flight deck of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72), Jan. 9. USS Mahan is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations and theater security operation efforts.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, fire their weapons during a rifle range near Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, Jan. 3, 2017. Marines with U.S. Marine Forces Europe and Africa, conducted a stress shoot, which involved a physically strenuous work-out followed by a course of fire aimed at testing the Marine’s cognitive function.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell

Cpl. Evangellos Kanellakos, a field radio operator with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, launches an RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aerial system during Exercise Alligator Dagger. The Raven provides aerial imagery up to 10 km away from its point of origin for close range surveillance, which can support forward observation of fires, identifying enemy locations, and to provide feedback for improving defensive and offensive positions.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Adam Miller

COAST GUARD:

We are always ready.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
USCG photo by Lieutenant Jiah Barnett

Sector San Francisco’s Incident Management Division (IMD) wrapped up operations on a case involving a World War II landing craft and a tractor it had been carrying, which both capsized in the Sacramento River. Initially a SAR case, all hands on board were okay, but diesel fuel entered the water. IMD worked with the responsible party of the landing craft, who hired a salvage company to mitigate the environmental threat of the pollution by removing the landing craft and tractor via crane.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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5 things we’d love to do with the Army’s surplus battleship ammo

Popular Mechanics dug this gem out of the list of contract requests from a government website this week: The U.S. Army is soliciting a contract for someone to destroy 15,595 naval artillery rounds originally designed for the 16-inch guns of massive ships like the USS Iowa.


The Army has maintained the shells since the Navy retired the massive battleships that fired them, but these things can’t be safely stored forever and the military needs them gone.

Hiring a responsible contractor with a proven track record is the best way to do this, but WATM came up with these 5 more entertaining ideas:

1. Host history’s best Independence Day party

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
It would look like this, but near a beach while you and your mildly intoxicated buddies got to watch from the shore. (Photo: U.S. Navy PH1 Terry Cosgrove)

So, the Army is looking for solutions in October, which is exactly the right month to start planning the perfect party for July 4th. Especially if the plans involve a few thousand 16-inch artillery shells. Pretty sure those require permits or something. Be sure to tell the permit office that the fireworks will explode over the water or an open, uninhabited area. And that they’re pretty lethal loud.

2. Blowing up a mountain, like in Iron Man

Remember that scene where Tony Stark is showing off the Jericho missile and he blows up an entire mountain range? Pretty sure everyone reading this would pay at least $15 to see a mountain disappear. Call me Army. We could turn a profit on this.

3. Play a real life game of battleship

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
I would tune into this show for literally every episode. (Meme: courtesy Decelerate Your Life)

The Navy is already getting rid of some old ships, and the Army has found itself with way too many naval artillery shells, meaning this is the perfect time to hold a full-sized game of battleship. Pretty sure the TV ratings could pay for the cost of towing the ships into position.

4. Give drill sergeants really accurate artillery simulators

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
That smoke in the back is coming from an artillery simulator. That’s not realistic enough training for our fighting men and women. (Photo: U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. David J. Overson)

Right now, drill sergeants and other military trainers use little artillery simulators that make a loud whining noise and then a sharp pop to teach recruits to quickly react to incoming indirect fire. They’re great, but it really ignores that sphincter-tightening boom that comes with real incoming fire.

Now imagine that drill sergeants threw the artillery simulator and then were able to remotely detonate an actual, buried battleship shell 100 yards away. Right? No one gets hurt, but it would teach those kids to get their heads down pretty quick.

5. Create claymore mines that shoot grenades

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
This is what it looks like with 1.5 pounds of C4. Someone has to try this with battleship shells and their little grenade submunitions. (Photo: U.S. Army Capt. Adan Cazarez)

Stick with me here. Claymore mines are brutally effective. A C-4 charge sends 700 steel balls flying in an arc at enemies. But the Army currently needs to get rid of 835 warheads that contain grenade submunitions and a whole bunch of other warheads filled with Explosive D.

So, how about we cut the grenades out of the submunition warheads, and duct tape them in rows around the Explosive D warheads? Sure, it would probably break a few treaties to use them in war, but it’s perfectly legal for a government to create an awesome piece of performance art on a military range. Probably.

(h/t Doctrine Man and Popular Mechanics)

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Analysts say that despite North Korean missile test, Kim Jong-un is likely years away from an ICBM

Despite North Korea’s claim its intercontinental ballistic missile launch shows it can attack targets anywhere it wants, experts say it will probably be years before it could use such a weapon in a real-world scenario.


The July 4 test demonstrated the North is closer than ever before to reaching its final goal of developing a credible nuclear deterrent to what it sees as the hostile policy of its archenemies in Washington.

But even for an experienced superpower, getting an ICBM to work reliably can take a decade.

Launching a missile under test conditions is relatively easy. It can be planned and prepared for and carried out whenever everything is ready, which makes success more likely. The real game-changer would come when the missile is considered operational under any conditions — in other words, when it is credible for use as a weapon.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Image from Wikimedia Commons

For sure, the North’s Fourth of July fireworks were a major success.

Initial analyses indicate its new “Hwasong 14” could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory. It was instead shot at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached a height of more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean 930 kilometers (580 miles) away.

Hwasong means “Mars.”

“If a vague threat is enough for them, they could wait for another successful launch and declare operational deployment after that, and half the world will believe them,” said Markus Schiller, a leading expert on North Korea’s missile capabilities who is based in Germany. “But if they take it seriously, as the US or Russia do, it would take at least a dozen more launches and perhaps 10 years. Mind you, this is their first ICBM.”

Schiller noted the example of Russia’s latest submarine-launched missile, the Bulava.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
One of Russia’s SLBM-capable submarines, K-535 Yuriy Dolgorukiy. Photo by Schekinov Alexey Victorovich.

“They really have a lot experience in that field, but from first launch to service it took them almost 10 years (2004 to 2013),” he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “They still have troubles — one of their test launches just failed.”

The bar for having an operational ICBM is also higher for the North if the United States is its target.

An ICBM is usually defined as a land-based ballistic missile with a range in excess of 5,500 kilometers (3,420 miles). That comes from US-Soviet disarmament talks and in that context makes good sense. The distance between Moscow and New York is about 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles).

But Narushige Michishita, a defense expert and professor at Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, pointed out that although the range required for North Korea to hit Alaska would be 5,700 kilometers (3,550 miles) and Hawaii 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles), reaching the other 48 states requires ranges of 8,000-12,000 kilometers (5,000-7,500 miles).

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Screenshot from Google Maps

“In the US-DPRK context, the 5,500 kilometer-range ICBM means nothing,” he said. “We must take a look at the range, not the title or name.”

Pyongyang made a point of trying to dispel two big questions about its missiles with the test: re-entry and accuracy.

It claims to have successfully addressed the problem of keeping a nuclear warhead intact during the descent to a target with a viable heatshield, which would mark a major step forward. The Hwasong 14 isn’t believed to be accurate enough to attack small targets despite Pyongyang’s claims otherwise, but that isn’t a major concern if it is intended to be a threat to large population areas, such as cities on the US West Coast.

The reliability problem, however, remains.

“These missiles are very complex machines, and if they’re launched again tomorrow it might blow up on the pad,” said David Wright, co-director and senior scientist at the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “You don’t want to do that with a nuclear warhead on top.”

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Wright said he believes Kim Jong Un decided to start a number of different development programs for different missile systems a couple of years ago and that the frequency of launches over the past 18 months suggests those programs have moved forward enough to reach the testing stages.

“I have been surprised by how quickly they have been advancing,” he said.

Wright said the North is believed by most analysts to have a nuclear device small and rugged enough to be put on a long-range missile, or to be very close to having one.

But he said it remains to be seen if its latest missile can be further modified to get the range it needs to threaten the contiguous US, or whether that would require a new system with a scaled-up missile and more powerful engine.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launch. USAF photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss.

“I suspect the latter, but don’t know yet,” he said.

The answer to that question matters because it has implications for how long it will take North Korea to really have an ICBM that could attack the US West Coast — and how long Washington has to take action to stop it.

What is Wright’s estimate?

“I would expect a couple years,” he said.

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How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Russia continues to issue threats to countries on its borders — most notably those with significant populations of ethnic Russians like Georgia and Ukraine which have already felt Moscow’s wrath in recent years.


But many European countries have reduced their spending in the decades since World War II, so preparing for a potential war with their aggressive and highly militarized neighbor is not as simple as giving their soldiers MREs, bullets, and marching orders.

And while the U.S. helps guarantee the security of NATO members, a recent analysis by the RAND Corporation indicates that many countries on the eastern front could be swallowed up long before American reinforcements could arrive. Some countries, like Estonia, could be conquered in as little as 60 hours, analysts say.

Here’s what eight countries in Eastern Europe are doing to get ready for the war they hope never comes:

1. Ukrainians are hastily emplacing fixed defenses

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Ukrainian soldiers practice clearing trenches on Nov. 2 during an exercise in Ukraine with U.S. soldiers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Ukraine is the one state on the list who is currently engaged in a war with Russia. While their troops have fought limited groups of Russian “volunteers,” Ukraine’s top generals are worried about a full-scale air attack and ground invasion.

To prepare, they’re digging trenches and emplacing fixed defenses like tank traps and bunkers. They’ve also practiced maneuvering mobile air defenses and other units. Finally, Ukraine is planning a massive expansion of its navy to replace many some of the ships captured by Russia in the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

2. Estonia is training a guerrilla force to bleed Russian occupiers dry

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Estonian soldiers provide cover fire for U.S. paratroopers on Nov. 3, 2016, in Hellenurme, Estonia, during a joint training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Estonia fields an army of only 6,000 soldiers and fully expects to be overrun within days if attacked by Russia, an outcome that the RAND Corporation agrees with. But Estonia plans to make the Russians regret ever acre they took.

The nation is hosting “military sport” contests and encouraging citizens to keep weapons in their homes. The sports events include 25-mile ruck marches, evasion exercises, plant identification, and others which test skills useful for an insurgent force. Over 25,000 Estonians have joined the weekly drills.

3. Latvia is training up a “home guard” and investing in special operations

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Latvian soldiers drive their armored combat vehicles into position during a joint training exercise with U.S. troops on Oct. 31, 2016, in Adazi, Latvia. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Like Estonia, Latvia is bullish on training citizens to resist an invasion. They’re moving forward with plans to allow “home guard” member to keep their weapons and night vision devices in their homes. They’re also betting heavily on special operations forces, tripling the size of the National Armed Force Special Operations Forces.

Like most NATO members, they’re also trying to get more NATO troops on their soil to deter Russian aggression in the first place. Britain is already sending troops for exercises, and Denmark and France have promised forces as well.

4. Lithuania

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
(Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Lithuania has distributed a civil defense book to its citizens which details how to survive a Russian invasion that includes a phone number which residents can call to report suspected Russian spies. It is also planning to restart military conscription for men between the ages of 19 and 26.

5. Norway

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Norwegian soldiers prepare for a stalking event during the 2016 Best Sniper Squad Competition in Germany. The team went on to win the overall competition. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

Norway officially acknowledged that it believes Ukraine was illegally occupied by Russia during a state visit to Ukraine on Oct. 18. Russia later added Norway to its list of targets for “strategic” weapons. Russia uses the word “strategic” to differentiate between conventional and nuclear-capable forces.

Norway has invited more NATO troops, including U.S. Marines, to train there. It’s also stepped up its intercepts of Russian aircraft flying near its shores. Norway’s F-16s now maintain a 24-hour alert. The country is also re-opening Cold War-era bases in the far north.

6. Poland is buying massive amounts of equipment, including new subs

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Polish soldiers of 17th Wielkopolska Mechanized Brigade move a simulated wounded soldier during a react to contact scenario during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Gage Hull)

Poland, which is considered to be one of the more hawkish NATO members, has been warning of a threat from Moscow for some time. For the past few years, it has championed regional security agreements with its neighbors and worked hard to ingrain itself with NATO.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland has ramped up the purchase of military hardware such as new, stealthy submarines and Polish-manufactured S-70 helicopters for its special operations soldiers.

7. and 8. Finland and Sweden are securing defense agreements with the U.K. and U.S.

Finland and Sweden are countries which famously prefer to avoid alliances, but Russian aggression has spurred an interest in limited defense agreements which will make it easier for NATO troops to deploy to those countries in the event of war.

The U.K. and U.S. signed two contracts each with Sweden and Norway, and all four agreements have different details. But, the broad strokes are that all four countries will increase their interoperability by holding joint training exercises as well as participating in research, development, and procurement projects.

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This sneaky sub attack almost changed the outcome of Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor was mostly an aerial sucker punch.


But history often forgets the role of Japanese submarines.

Just before adding the finishing touches to his sneaky plan, Japanese navy Adm. Yamamoto caved into his fleet’s air-surface rivalry and drew up plans to involve sailors assigned to conventional ships.

Related: The Navy made these incredible photos to show present day Pearl Harbor compared to the day of the attack

“The Japanese air arm was going to get all the glory in the Pearl Harbor attack, and the surface fleet sailors were unhappy about this, they wanted to get in on the action,” said author and historian Dan King in the video below. “But they couldn’t send battleships, cruisers, and destroyers to Pearl Harbor, so the next best thing was to send in submarines.

As it turns out, Yamamoto was no stranger to intra-service rivalry and glory hogging. His promotion of force projection through gunboat diplomacy is a result of the Japanese Army-Navy rivalry.

He fought against political opponents in the Army who only wanted the Navy for the logistical support of invading forces, transport, and supply runs.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Ko-hoteki class submarine grounded in the surf on Oahu after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941. Photo by U.S. Navy.

Yamamoto settled on the 80-foot Type A Ko-hyoteki — or “Midget” — submarine for the attack. The small two-person vessels were armed with only a pair of torpedoes and sent to lay dormant on the harbor floor until the air raid began.

However, in early Dec. 7, before the attack kicked off, an American cargo ship spotted one of these small subs heading to its position on the South end of Oahu. Members of the cargo ship alerted the USS Ward (DD-139), who’s commander immediately called its crew to general quarters.

Two gun blasts and several depth charges later reduced the sub to scrap, and America officially drew first blood. But amazingly, the attack was treated as an isolated incident and didn’t raise any flags of a larger invasion.

This American Heroes Channel video shows how the events played out during the early hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Watch:

American Heroes Channel, YouTube
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This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels

It was a common sight during Desert Storm: grainy black-and-white footage of an Iraqi bunker or hanger slowly getting closer and closer to the screen.


Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Munitions with cameras fed the footage of new, precision-guided “smart bombs” to Americans watching the war at home.

Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army used underground facilities beneath layers of sand and reinforced concrete to protect his command and control centers, research labs, and ammo dumps. The U.S. military tasked its defense apparatus to come up with a way to penetrate and destroy these shelters.

Thus, the GBU-28 Bunker Buster bomb was born.

The GBU-28 is a 4,400-pound monster of hardened steel and tritonal explosives, a mixture of TNT and aluminum powder. Once the target is marked with a laser, that laser guides the bomb to its target and the rest (like the target) is history.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

That hardened steel is what protects the bombs for their initial penetration through concrete. Barrels of artillery guns are designed to hold up to repeated artillery blasts, which is why the U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal used barrels from 8-inch self-propelled howitzers as casings for the design.

That protection the spent barrels provide is perfect to give the bunker buster bomb time to penetrate a target while its time-delay fuse waits to unleash the real payload.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
An 8

Engineering changes to the initial casing were made via telephone, even as the original barrels were being stripped and reconfigured by machinists on the assembly line. Watch the whole story of the birth of the bunker buster bomb in the video below.

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Fast-mover hit by enemy ground fire over Afghanistan

 


Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
An F-16 launching with external fuel tanks.

AFP is reporting that an American F-16 was hit by small arms fire over Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend. The damage to the jet was severe enough that the pilot decided to jettison all external stores (drop tanks and bombs) before returning to Bagram Air Base north of Kabul.

Although a number of rotary wing aircraft have been shot down or damaged by ground fire while operating over Afghanistan, tactical jets have been basically untouched by the enemy since the first airstrikes started in October of 2001.  The Taliban don’t have much in the way of an integrated air defense system (a la Desert Storm-era Iraq), and jets can usually remain out of the reach of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (like Stingers) and small arms fire by flying above 10,000 feet while delivering GBUs or JDAMs.

So, in order to have been hit by bullets, the F-16 pilot had to have been flying pretty low.  Pilots generally fly low for two reasons:  A “show of force” pass or a strafing run.  Non-precision (“dumb”) bombing can cause a pilot to bottom out at low altitude, but it’s unlikely the Falcon was carrying other than smart weapons, even for a close air support mission.

The Taliban claimed to have downed the F-16 and pictures have emerged of them posing with wreckage, but the U.S. military responded with the following statement: “On October 13, a US F-16 encountered small arms fire in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan. The surface to air fire impacted one of the aircraft’s stabilizers and caused damage to one of the munitions.”

Now: 4 things that made the F-16 years ahead of its time

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Repeating rifles ‘saved 1,000 lives’ in their combat debut

The Spencer Repeating Rifle was originally considered a useless expense by the U.S. War Department who thought the rifles were too expensive and that they would encourage wasteful firing by soldiers on the lines.


But in the rifle’s combat debut, a Union brigade took an important gap and held it against overwhelming numbers, causing XIV Corps Commander Maj. Gen. George Thomas to declare that the men and their rifles had “saved the lives of a thousand men.”

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Union Col. John T. Wilder outfitted his men with the Spencer Repeating Rifle after the War Department refused to do so. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Union Col. John T. Wilder was an early believer in the Spencer Repeating Rifle, a new weapon design that allowed a soldier to load seven pre-made cartridges instead of pouring powder and loading each round between shots as muskets required.

This gave a soldier carrying a repeating rifle the capability of firing 14-20 well-aimed shots per minute against the 2-3 shots per minute of other troops.

But while Wilder and other officers were eager to try the repeating rifle, the War Department refused to purchase them. Wilder, eager to outfit his mounted infantry brigade with the new weapons, organized funding through his hometown bank.

On the morning of June 24, 1863, Wilder’s mounted infantry brigade was sent as the vanguard of an attack toward Manchester, Tennessee. The first step of the attack was securing mountain passes and Wilder’s brigade was ordered toward’s Hoover’s Gap, the most direct route to Manchester.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
The Tullahoma Campaign began with Col. John T. Wilder’s Lightning Brigade taking Hoover’s Gap and ended with Union forces driving the Confederates from Middle Tennessee. (Map: Hal Jespersen, CC BY 3.0)

The mounted infantrymen rode hard ahead of the rest of Union forces, arriving near the gap and encountering the first elements of Confederate resistance at noon. According to Col. James Connolly, a regimental commander in the brigade, that was when the brigade really got going.

While the corps commanders expected to capture the gap in the following days, Wilder wanted to push the brigade through the gap before the Confederates could reinforce it. Then, Wilder and his men would hold the gap until the rest of the Union army could catch up. Wilder sent Connolly’s regiment on a headlong dash through the gap.

Connolly and his men scattered a regiment of Confederate cavalry and pushed into the gap at a full gallop. He later wrote:

… the valley is barely wide enough to admit the passage of two wagons side by side, and the hills upon either side command the valley completely; as we swept through the valley with our 1,500 horsemen on a gallop we noticed the lines of entrenchments crowning the hills, but they were deserted; the enemy was surprised and flying before us, so we pushed onward until we passed entirely through the “Gap,” when a puff of white smoke from a hill about half a mile in front of us, then a dull heavy roar, then the shrieking of a shell told us we could advance no further as we had reached their infantry and artillery force.

The Union brigade was six miles ahead of its planned limit of advance and approximately 12 miles ahead of its reinforcements, who would have to march through deep mud and up steep hills to reach them.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
The Spencer Repeating Rifle allowed seven shots between reloads. (Photo: En-Wiki F-35, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Meanwhile, the single Union brigade faced a counterattacking force of four Confederate infantry brigades and four artillery batteries.

The Union forces sent their horses to the rear and set up a line of battle on a hill overlooking the southern entrance to the gap. Connolly and his men set up a position supporting the single, light artillery battery the Union had.

The Confederate guns opened a bombardment of the Union soldiers and rebel infantry began marching on the Union artillery battery. Connolly and his men watched the enemy march towards them and then opened fire with their Spencer repeating rifles.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
This is the 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1863. Included because no one commissioned a painting of the Lightning Brigade at Hoover’s Gap, but we need some kind of battle imagery here. (Painting: Don Troiani courtesy of the National Guard)

Their first volley of fire cut through the Confederate ranks, but the rebels outnumbered the Union soldiers approximately four to one. The Confederates recovered their colors from the ground and resumed charging.

But the Confederates didn’t know about repeating rifles. The Union quickly fired another volley, and then another, until, in Connolly’s words, “the poor regiment was literally cut to pieces, and but few men of that 20th Tennessee that attempted the charge will ever charge again.”

Riders arrived at the battle and relayed orders to Wilder to withdraw his men, but Wilder ignored the orders and insisted that his men could hold the line.

The fight continued — with the numerically superior Confederates trying to push the Union soldiers off but being cut down by the fire from the Spencers — until after 7 p.m. when Union reinforcements began arriving.

Another artillery battery set up near the exit from the gap and infantry began taking positions near Wilder’s brigade on the hills.

Corps Commander Maj. Gen. George Thomas met Wilder and told him, “You have saved the lives of a thousand men by your gallant conduct today. I didn’t expect to get this Gap for three days.”

Wilder and his men had inflicted over 200 casualties on the Confederates while suffering fifty-one deaths of their own. This four-to-one advantage in casualties came despite an exact opposite disadvantage in troop numbers.

Wilder’s brigade was honored with a new nickname, “The Lightning Brigade.”

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The hater’s guide to the US Army

This is the third in a series about how branches of the military hate on each other. We’ll feature all branches of the U.S. military, written by veterans of that branch being brutally honest with themselves and their services.


The military is like a family that gets together and holds backyard wrestling tournaments every once in a while. They’re violent, they protect one another from outsiders, and are ridiculously mean to each other.

We’ve already shown how the other branches make fun of the Air Force and the Marine Corps. Here’s how the other branches hate on the Army (and how they should).

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Photo: US Army

The easiest ways to make fun of the Army

Like the Marine Corps, the Army gets called ‘dumb’ a lot. Since they gave out a lot of waivers for the military entrance test in the early 2000s, this isn’t without merit. Also, soldiers try to defend themselves by pointing out all the tough Army jobs that require a surprising amount of intellect such as Special Forces or Satellite Communications Operator. Coming from most soldiers, this is kind of like a mailroom employee pointing out how smart the computer engineers at Google are.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Soldiers also get ridiculed for the admittedly useless uniform they wore for most of the Global War on Terror. All sorts of reasons were given for why it was secretly brilliant, but two other camouflage patterns outperformed the ACU in the Army’s own tests before it was fielded. Since the Marine Corps had just gotten their own sweet digital camouflage before the ACU was fielded, there were a lot of (quite possibly true) accusations of copy-catting.

Body fat is another area the Army takes a lot of flak. Even though their body fat standards are actually in line with the other services, photos like the one below and an Army motto of “Army Strong” just made the jokes too easy.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Speaking of which, quite a few Army slogans have been duds with service members. “Army of One” worked for recruiting the video game generation, but it supported a lone warrior ideal that is the opposite of how the Army fights. “Be All You Can Be,” was extremely successful and ran for twenty years, but like “Army Strong” it’s perfect for memes with fat soldiers.

Why to actually hate the Army

As the largest ground force in the U.S., the Army has a lot of control over what gear and weapons go to both soldiers and, in a few cases, the Marines. When they choose correctly, all troops from all the branches usually end up with better gear for patrols like these weapon sights that let shooters see enemies through smoke and dust.

When they choose incorrectly, they spend $1.5 billion just to shut down a failed program, like they did with the Future Combat System. This was not a one-time thing.

This power to choose what ground combatants wear comes from the fact that the Army is the largest branch and by doctrine is the one in charge of taking and occupying enemy territory. But soldiers get really prima donna about this, making jokes any time airmen screw up on a rifle range or Marines get a vehicle stuck. “Not used to using a rifle, airman? It’d be easier if you were kicking back on the beach, right Marine?”

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

This is stupid since soldiers screw this stuff up too. Regularly. And when they crash a truck in the mountains or desert, they can’t even use the excuse that their equipment was primarily designed for fighting amphibious battles.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Yeah, soldiers did this while in their own vehicles, driving around their own base, operating near their own defenses.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Above: Not an airman’s fault.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Zero Marines in this picture.

Also, the Army makes really bold statements about how they’re “more tech-savvy than you,” which feels a bit arrogant and misguided coming from an institution whose public-facing website got hacked a few months ago because they didn’t use https. They also risked the exposure of thousands of Army families’ personal information with a faulty system in paying for childcare.

Why to love them

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Besides the fact that they began defending America the year before America existed? Or that they marched across Nazi-occupied Europe? Well, there’s the fact that American soldiers served more troop years in Iraq and Afghanistan than all the other services combined. Or, you could love them because their most elite soldiers, Delta Force, just liberated 70 ISIS hostages in a daring raid.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Photo: US Army

Then there’s the fact that they operate not only on the ground, but also in the water, the air, and space. Army Airborne units provide contingency response forces for both the European/African theaters and the entire world. That’s before you count the Army Rangers who can break into an enemy country and topple its land forces in hours or days of fierce fighting with little rest.

When it’s time to fight more subtle conflicts, Green Berets can slip into foreign countries and begin training up friendly militias and armies, safeguarding American interests while limiting risk.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, The National Guard

The Army is also boss at disaster and humanitarian relief. They supported rescue and rebuilding efforts in Haiti, Nepal, and Japan. When the mission is closer to home, troops deploy as well. In just 2015, they’ve helped rebuild after hurricanes in South Carolina, rescue Texans from floodwaters, and fight forest fires in California.

Articles

This bridge is one of the most underrated engineering feats of WWII

Throughout history, bridges have been one of the most targeted structures on the battlefield, as opposing forces do everything in their power to blow them up and cut off incoming supply lines.


After a bridge is destroyed, a new one needs to be established, or occupying forces can risk losing their resupply sources permanently.

In World War II, Japanese, Italians, and German armies used explosive motorboats as a technique to take down allied bridges. Enemy troops in scuba gear would point these motorboats in the direction of the bridge’s supporting structures and bail out right before the vessel strikes and detonates.

The explosive motorboats in action. (Images via Giphy)Because of the effectiveness of the explosive motorboats, allied forces needed to create a portable bridge that could be quickly set up and could handle the massive stress of getting blown up.

The resolution came from an unlikely source — the mind of a British civil servant named Donald Bailey.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Donald Bailey carefully examines one of his bridge designs. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Related: Why WWII soldiers nicknamed the Sherman tank ‘death trap’

While returning home after working at an experimental bridge, an idea popped into Bailey’s mind. He began sketching out the new architectural idea on the back of an envelope — something that later became the “Bailey Bridge.”

This new creation could support large armored tanks across 200 feet of water and set up quickly just by using some wrenches and a few engineers.

“The Bailey bridge is a very fabricated bridge, and it can be broken down into parts, trucked to a site, and then reassembled in a big hurry,” military historian William Atwater explains.

Also Read: This forgotten soldier survived 4-months in Dunkirk by himself

After being successfully set up under fire during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower reportedly claimed the bridge was one of the pieces of equipment that most contributed to the victory in Europe.

Check out Lightning War 1941’s video below to see how this quickly fabricated bridge helped change the course of the war.

YouTube, LightningWar1941
Articles

6 times you played dumb while serving in the military

For the most part, we’ve all pretended to play dumb to have a positive impact on our workday or to get out of something we didn’t want to do.


For sure, we didn’t do it to screw anybody else over. But there are just a few moments in all the years we served that we managed to pull off a small scheme to get out of a sticky situation.

Related: 5 things you should know before diving into a ‘contract marriage’

So check out a few ways veterans have played dumb to get themselves out of a negative situation.

1. That time you pretended to be incompetent because don’t want to get assigned extra duty on the weekend.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
But everyone knows you know how to stand Quarter Deck watch.

2. That time you pretended to get “lost” on a stateside company movement because you were in no hurry to get there.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Regrouping is an excellent strategy.

3. When you were a boot, and you fumbled with operating a piece of equipment because you don’t want to use or carry the damn thing.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
What do all these number and letters represent?

4. That time you told the roving duty you didn’t see sh*t to cover up for one of your brothers or sisters.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
In this case, I think we should believe him.

5. That time you got busted for having something in your barracks room, and you claimed to have never seen it before.

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
I’ve never seen that delicious looking vodka before in my life. True story. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Also Read: Here’s what the Marines of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ are doing today

6. After you arrived late to formation, but you blamed your tardiness on your alarm clock. “I swear I set it, gunny.”

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Number one excuse for anyone running late.

How did you play dumb during your service? Comment below.

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Ms. Vet Finalist Recounts Night With Justin Timberlake

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Justin Timberlake with Corporal Kelsey DeSantis at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball on Nov. 12, 2011.


Kelsey DeSantis’ accomplished much during her enlistment, including being the honor grad of her boot camp class and qualifying as one of the few female trainers at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. But in pop music circles she is perhaps best known for having Justin Timberlake as her date for the Birthday Ball in 2011.

“I didn’t do it because I used to wear N-Synch t-shirts or was a fan at all,” DeSantis told WATM while she prepped to compete for the title of Ms. Veteran America in mid-October of this year. “I did it because I was studying for the sergeants board and I had to know current events.”

“I had two female civilian roommates at the time and they were helping me study,” she explained. “One of them said, ‘Oh, look, Mila Kunis got invited to the Marine Corp Birthday Ball.'”

At the time Kunis and Timberlake were doing interviews to promote the movie “Friends and Benefits” that co-starred them. One interviewer brought up the fact that Kunis had been invited to the USMC Birthday Ball by a Marine in Afghanistan who’d posted a video on YouTube. Kunis claimed she’d never seen the video, which caused Timberlake to emphatically encourage her to attend, saying “you have to serve your country.”

Timberlake’s enthusiasm and the way he framed Kunis’ obligation to attend as a form of national service didn’t impress DeSantis. “He said it about three of four times – ‘do it for your country; serve your country – which made my blood boil,” she said. “I was like . . . really?”

So the young corporal decided to make a YouTube video of her own inviting Timberlake to be her date for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. “I wasn’t even sure where the ball was being held,” she said. “I thought it was going to be in Washington when it actually was going on in Richmond.”

DeSantis had never produced a video for YouTube, but she had a basic concept in mind: she’d address the camera with the appropriate mix of directness and sass with a line of her fellow Marines standing behind her. The next day she asked one of her senior enlisted guys if he’d be in the video, knowing that if he participated she’d also get others to join. The tactic worked, and without wasting any time the group assembled and shot the video. “We did it in one take,” DeSantis said.

“You want to call out my girl Mila?” De Santis says to Timberlake in the video. “Well, I’m going to call you out and ask you to come to the Marine Corps ball with me on November 12. If you can’t go, all I have to say is, cry me a river.”

As soon as the video hit YouTube “it blew up,” DeSantis said. Her CO called her in and ordered her to take it down. She demurred, saying that her roommates had posted the video on a special Facebook page they created to entreat Timberlake to respond and she had no control over that.

The concern of higher-ups intensified when Timberlake wound up accepting. But instead of fighting it, the Marine Corps public affairs machine decided to use the pop star’s attendance as a vehicle to promote the service in a positive light.

The night proved to be very successful from all points of view, including those of DeSantis and Timberlake. They shared one dance and a hug at the end of the evening.

“He was a complete gentlemen,” DeSantis said. “You could tell he genuinely enjoyed himself.”

For his part, the next day Timberlake posted his sentiments on his blog, describing the Marine Corps Birthday Ball as “one of the most moving evenings I’ve ever had.”

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14
Kelsey DeSantis at the Ms. Vet America event in Leesburg, Virginia in Oct. 2014. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

DeSantis’ enlistment ended the following year, and she left the Corps to compete as a professional mixed martial arts fighter and to pursue her passion for veteran advocacy. The MMA part of the plan was interrupted earlier this year when she found out she was pregnant.

She feared her pregnancy would jeopardize her ability to be a contestant in the Ms. Vet America event to which she’d committed after being selected as a finalist, but when she informed Jas Boothe, the event founder, Boothe replied, “Are you kidding me? This is what we’re all about.”

DeSantis was eight months along during the Ms. Veteran America event, and her proud presence on the runway among her fellow contestants was evidence that this wasn’t just another beauty pageant.

See Kelsey Desantis in The Mighty TV mini doc about the Ms. Veteran America Event here.

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The 9 greatest fighter pilots you’ve never heard of

Anyone with a passing interest in military aviation knows names like Immelmann, von Richthofen, Rickenbacker, and Boyington. Here are 9 lesser-known aces whose aerial accomplishments rival those of the legends:


1. Francesco Baracca (Italy)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

The most successful Italian ace of World War I, with 34 confirmed victories.

2. Indra Lal Roy (India)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

India’s most successful fighter pilot, with 12 kills (2 shared). He remains the only Indian fighter ace to this day.

3. Ivan Kozhedub (Russia)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Credited with 64 victories, Kozhedub is the top scoring Allied ace of World War II. He’s also one of the few pilots to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me 262, one of the Luftwaffe’s early jets.

4. Josef Frantisek (Czechoslovakia)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Credited as the top scoring RAF ace during the Battle of Britain. He refused to fly in formation but was allowed to fly as a “guest” of RAF 303 (Polish) squadron. In the air he would break off and patrol areas by himself where he knew enemy aircraft would be.

5. Ilmari Juutilainen (Finland)

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94 confirmed aerial combat victories during World War II against the Soviets . . . and from Finland. Thirty-four of his kills came while flying a Brewster Buffalo.

6. James Jabara (United States)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

First American jet-versus-jet ace in history and the second-highest-scoring U.S. ace of the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross for his accomplishments in combat.

7. M M Alam (Pakistan)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

Alam downed 9 Indian aircraft during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. On one sortie he shot down 5 Indian aircraft in less than a minute — the first four within 30 seconds — which remains a world record that is unlikely to be beaten.

8. Shahram Rostami (Iran)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

During the Iran-Iraq War Tomcat pilot Shahram Rostami shot down 6 Iraqi fighters: 1 MiG-21, 3 Mirage F1s and 2 MiG-25s (the first to do so).

9. Giora Epstein (Israel)

Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 14

History’s highest scoring jet ace, with 17 confirmed kills during the Six Day War, the War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War.